Chinchilla Lifespan: How Long Do Chinchillas Live?

Introduction to the Chinchilla’s Lifespan

Chinchillas are particularly long-lived for rodents, outliving most of the other rodents that we keep as pets. So how long does a chinchilla live? An average of 10 years in the wild and even longer in captivity! The average lifespan of Chinchilla kept as pets are around 15 years since they are not subjected to predation or hunting and have access to veterinary care. With proper care and feeding, their lifespan can go up to 20 years or even more. Quick fact: The oldest chinchilla on record lived 28 years and 94 days.

Besides having a long lifespan, chinchillas also have a lengthy gestation period of 111 days and are born fully-formed, resembling miniature versions of adults. They are weaned at around 8 weeks old and reach their optimal breeding age at 8 to 9 months or later.

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Domestic chinchillas can live 15 years or more. Photo credit: Jens Nietschmann

 

How Long Do Chinchillas Live in Captivity?

In contrast to the life expectancy of other small pet mammals such as hamsters (2 to 3 years), rats (2 to 4 years) guinea pigs ( 5 to 7 years), the longevity of Chinchillas is exceptional, making them great pets for people who are prepared to commit to a long-term animal companion.

However, not all Chins live to a ripe old age of 15 – 20 years in captivity. Chinchilla owners have reported their pets dying prematurely anywhere from a few months to under ten years. It is tragic because many of these deaths could have been prevented.

Whether a chin makes it to the age of 15 or more depends on a variety of factors. A chinchilla can die a premature death from preventable causes such as improper care or nutrition, accidents, or not going to the vet early enough for a treatable condition. It can also die early from things that you have no control over such as bad genetics and untreatable conditions.

How to Improve the Chances of Your Chin Living a Long & Healthy Life

Too often, chins die early because their new owners were uninformed and did not provide the proper care required for them to thrive. The tips below will hopefully help avoid that and let your chinchilla live to a ripe old age.

Get Your Chinchillas From A Reputable Breeder

Acquiring your chinchillas from a reputable breeder whose chins are bred from a healthy lineage and reared in good condition is important if you wish to have a long-lived chin. Not all chinchillas are bred from healthy stock, and a chinchilla from an unknown source, pet stores, or amateur breeders may have genetic problems or may not have been cared for properly, reducing their potential life spans. If you go to a reputable breeder, you’ll not only reduce your chances of getting a chin with such problems, but also have access to someone who is knowledgeable about chinchillas.

Provide A Suitable Living Environment

A suitable living environment includes the correct-sized cage, chews to file down your chin’s teeth, dust baths, a hideout, and an exercise wheel. Educate yourself on the recommended requirements of a chinchilla’s cage and accessories. Products sold in pet stores “for chinchillas” are not necessarily good, appropriate, or even safe for them.

Chinchillas also require a temperature of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit and low humidity – heat stroke is one way chinchillas can die easily so make sure you have air-conditioning for the warmer months of the year.

Proper Nutrition is Essential

Giving your chinchilla a proper diet is very important. Unlike many pets which thrive on a variety of food and treats, Chins do best when they are given a monotonous, boring diet of hay and pellets. Food that is perfectly alright for humans or other pets may be toxic for chinchillas. Many a chinchilla has suffered an untimely death because its well-intentioned owner gave the chin fruits or vegetables that were harmful for it. Know which foods are safe and unsafe for your chinchillas and keep their diets boring and safe.

Avoid Letting Your Chin Roam Free In The House

It is a bad idea to let your chinchilla roam free in your house. Electrical wires, houseplants, plastic bags, and even seemingly harmless furniture can cause an accident when a chin gets overly curious. There have been cases of chinchillas chewing on electrical cords, eating toxic houseplants, swallowing small objects, and getting into all sorts of accidents when allowed to free-range at home and these incidents have resulted in injury or death.

Your chins will need time outside the cage but not unsupervised. If you have to leave your chin in a room without supervision, the room will have to be chinchilla-proof. Some people like to create a play room for their chins that’s completely chin-proof.

Pay Attention To Your Chin’s Behavior

Chinchilla Environment ~ Chinchilla Proofing Your Home & Fixing Boredom

the chinchilla lifespan can be increased with proper care and attention Photo credit: Narisa

 

Chinchillas are great at masking signs of illnesses since any sickness or injury would make them a prime target for predators in the wild. Chins are able to hide their illnesses so well that in many cases, it’s too late to treat a chin when the owner finally realizes something is wrong. Familiarize yourself with your chin’s behavior and look out for changes in appetite, your chin’s poop, or for behavior that does not seem normal for your pet. You want to detect any illness early so you can get treatment for your chin as soon as possible.

Know Where Your Nearest Exotic Vet Is

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Exotic vets may be better equipped to take care of your chinchilla. Photo Credit: MyFWCmedia

 

It may sound silly to look for a vet even before your chin gets sick but in reality, this is a very important detail that may save your chin’s life. If your chinchilla gets into an emergency situation or falls ill, you do not want to be scrambling for a vet at the last minute. Furthermore, going to just any vet near your home may not be the best for your chin since most vets do not specialize in exotic pets and may not have experience treating a chinchilla.

Most veterinarians have their own web page today so do a search and save the contact details of a few exotic vets near you. You can also ask for recommendations from fellow chinchilla owners, your chinchilla breeder, or the pet store.

Conclusion

The lifespan of a chinchilla is very long, and it can live 15 to 20 years, but because of improper care, not all of them reach that age. However, by acquiring your chin from a reputable breeder, providing a suitable living environment and proper nutrition, supervising your chin’s out-of-cage playtime, paying attention to your chinchilla’s behavior, and knowing where your nearest exotic vet is, you can avoid situations that may cut your chin’s life short.

It is my hope that your chinchillas will live long, healthy lives. Like the one in this video (according to its owner, this chin is 25 years old):

 

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